We're at that interesting time of year wherein we look back on the year that was and look forward to what the next year might have in store for us. What have we learned? Where do we go from here?
These are the big questions. So…what have we learned in 2010?
We've learned that change comes slow. Healthcare reform went through twists, turns, hurdles, and noise before something was passed and enacted. Don't Ask Don't Tell, despite widespread support for its repeal, took a long time to go away. And we've learned that there are groups that are trying to keep the status quo alive.
We've learned that Americans are very divided on how to treat others. We've seen controversy erupt over the Park51 Islamic community center in lower Manhattan and another in small-town Tennessee and how politicians in far-removed constituencies have made it a local issue. We're still divided on how to handle undocumented immigration and what to do with twelve million or so undocumented immigrants in this country already.
We've learned that there is a glimmer of hope for sanity in this country. Hundreds of thousands of people packed the National Mall in Washington DC to attend Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or Fear) and millions more took part in localized editions across the nation and around the world. Is that message sticking? Time will tell, but my signs are pointing to yes.
We've learned that downtown Phoenix just isn't ready to take off…yet. We've seen steps forward and backward with CityScape. Even with light rail access, parking spaces are still important to downtown Phoenix planners, as evident with the demolition of the Sahara/Ramada Inn for a parking lot (even with better alternatives) and an extension of a parking lot's life in the heart of the urban core.
But what else have we learned? Despite all the madness and craziness in the world, the human spirit is as alive and resilient as ever. We read that in Arizona, one of the hardest-hit states by the recession, one in three people volunteer their time to help others. We see — and meet — individuals who have overcome great personal struggle and return to be our friends and colleagues.
From here, where? Change is constant and we always meet new people. In 2011, and beyond, take time to talk to the people you meet. No, not over Facebook or text messages; talk to them in person over a cup of coffee. Learn about them. Have them learn about you. We each have our passions and skills and if the world is to be repaired, it starts with conversation between and among people.
~ ~ ~
Peace, joy, blessings, and cheer to you in 2011. I wish you all the best.